Nancy Goldstone comes to the blog today with a non-fiction title, mired in the politics and power-brokers in 14th century Europe, narrated by Christine Lakin, please discover international politics and intrigue with a decidedly Italian touch in
The Lady Queen
Please don’t misunderstand, I am aware that a non-fiction and fictional historic accounts will read and feel differently, and while both should serve to provide a sense of ‘what was’, it is the historic non-fiction that should also leave me with more answers than questions about the person or time. Unfortunately, despite the raves I’ve heard about Goldstone’s books, this particular volume was far more erratic and uneven both in terms of information shared and interest generated in that information. And while I am convinced that much of the primary source material here was either difficult or impossible to access (perhaps owing to the fact that this maker of history was female, and long have we been discounted as players in the ‘big games) I was disappointed at the frequent use of quotes about Joanna – from those much later in time, or the ‘she may have” repeated refrains. Sure I understood that the primary sources on which she might have relied were destroyed during World War II, her obvious fascination with her own subject is conveyed more adeptly in the introduction and author’s notes than in the book proper, leaving me with far more questions than answers and little information on the whole that I couldn’t have found in another text. To say I was disappointed, or wish that the author would have reversed the style and created a story about Joanna that took FROM history and actual facts, allowing her obvious flair and fascination for this woman lost to history to take front stage and been far more readable and feel less like I’ve had a class put together from post-it notes.
Narration for this book is provided by Christine Lakin and I quite frankly wish that I had read the 300 plus pages rather than listened to fifteen hours of poorly presented accents and a rather dry recitation of words – as the book was challenged in many ways with repetitive phrasing due to the lack of actual evidentiary documentation, and a fascination with using quotes as people from other eras looked back on Joanna’s reign, the narration did not serve to ignite any further understanding in the story, merely muddled waters that were already feeling very clouded and unsure from the start. I was disappointed and find that my interest in both this author and narrator has taken a direct hit.
Stars: Overall 2 Narration 1 Story 2
Title: The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily
Author: Nancy Goldstone
Genre: Historic Elements, Medieval Era, Non Fiction, Setting: Italy
Narrator: Christine Lakin
Published by: Back Bay Books, Hachette Audio
Published on: 17 October, 2018
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 15 Hours: 6 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
The riveting history of a beautiful queen, a shocking murder, a papal trial - and a reign as triumphant as any in the Middle Ages.
Italy fourteenth century - Amid intrigue, betrayal, and conspiracy, Joanna I of Sicily became the only female monarch of her day to rule in her own name, and one of the most courageous women in history. Married for political advantage at the age of seven to her six-year-old Hungarian cousin, Joanna saw her brilliant, cultivated world shattered twelve years later by the brutal assassination of her husband. Accused of the murder by her powerful in-laws, Joanna was forced to flee her kingdom and stand trial for her life before the papal court at Avignon on March 15, 1348. The account of how, despite her youth and sex, she triumphed over her enemies, raised an army, and took back her realm makes for one of the most compelling sagas of any age.
Joanna went on to rule for a further thirty years, weathering war, plague, and treason to become one of the most powerful and influential leaders in Italy. Dedicated to the welfare of her subjects and realm, she reduced crime, built hospitals and churches, encouraged the licensing of women physicians, and expertly navigated the dangerous complexity of papal politics. Her elegant court became a window on the century, luring some of the most important writers and artists of the period, including Giovanni Boccaccio, author of the The Decameron, and Francesco Petrarch. Her reign rivaled that of Elizabeth I in power and scope - until the violence and treachery of the medieval world ultimately betrayed her.
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.